Anguilla

Why Anguilla? I have heard for a long time that this small island north of St. Maarten is less crowded and has amazing beaches. There is a new-ish luxury Hilton property, Zemi Beach House, on Anguilla that looked amazing, and we had about one million total Hilton Honors points plus some free night certificates to burn. So I booked a 5 night trip at the end of my semester in May over a time when the kids at least had one Tuesday off from school so if we travelled Sat – Thurs they would only miss three days of school.

I decided to book 2 rooms, one for us and one for the kids, just to truly live in the lap of luxury. When I went to book the points prices for the rooms were pretty low for this property, about 75,000 a night (usually they start at 95,000). Plus I used two free night certificates for one of the rooms.

I looked into fights on points and Delta seemed the best option. At first I had a fantasy that my husband I could go without out kids so I booked us tickets round trip tickets from Syracuse to St. Maarten on basic economy (we don’t care about sitting together) for 65,000 miles total. When I realized I had no one to watch our kids, I added them to the trip and bought them regular economy tickets on Delta (so they could sit together at least) for 95,000 total miles.

For entry to St. Maarten we only needed to be vaccinated against Covid-19, so a couple days before we had to upload pictures of our vax cards to the St. Maarten’s entry website and within a few hours they sent us back ”pass” emails that could be uploaded to Delta’s website. We also needed antigen or PCR tests to get into Anguilla, so we took Antigen tests two days before and brought those results with us.

On the day we traveled our flight left Syracuse at 6am. Since we still had to check the kids in we left our house at 3:30am to get to the airport at 4am. When the agent saw that my husband and I still needed seat assignments (basic economy) she told us to tell the gate agent and she would seat us together. When I told the agent she put the 4 of us together in Comfort Plus, which was nice but didn’t really get us much other than sitting in front of the plane since it was a quick shuttle to JFK. Our flight from JFK was scheduled to leave at 8:30am, which was a very tight connection, but in a way it was fortunate that it was delayed an hour to leave at 9:30. That gave us some time to go over to the Centurion Lounge at JFK and get some delicious breakfast. We left so early we hadn’t eaten anything. This Centurion Lounge is new-ish and I haven’t been able to visit yet. I was pleased it wasn’t very crowded and the food was awesome.

Centurion Lounge JFK

Our flight to St. Maarten took off right at 9:30. I was able to purchase seat assignments earlier for my husband and I to be near the kids. I had chosen Delta as my airline of choice for my Amex business platinum card, and so $200 worth of these types of incidentals are refunded. We landed in St. Maarten at 1:45 and got to the immigration & customs line around 2pm. And what a line it was. We waited in a long snaky line for over two hours! It was pretty miserable. When we finally cleared customs we were met by a greeter from our hotel who got us into a shuttle for a 2 minute ride to the dock. From there we got on a chartered sea shuttle boat to Anguilla. I was so happy to have a rum punch at that point, although the boat ride was pretty rough and we were relieved to reach the dock. From there we went through a 5 minute immigration and customs at Anguilla and then took a 20 minute taxi to the resort.

We got to the resort around 5pm and they met us with some rum punch and gave us a tour of the resort. We had two connecting rooms and both had balconies overlooking the adults-only pool. There was chilled champagne and treats waiting for us. We enjoyed the pool for a little bit and then ate a lovely dinner at their restaurant on the beach before turning in for the night.

The next day we spent at the resort swimming in the beach and pool. The breakfast buffet (free to us because of our diamond status) was delicious with a ton of great options. At lunch time we walked down the beach to Gwen’s Reggae Hut for some barbecue and they had a live “scratch band” (kind of like a Caribbean jug band, complete with a washtub bass). I thoroughly enjoyed the music but everyone else thought it was too loud.

The following day we rented a car and after breakfast and some beach time we explored the island a little. In search for food that was a little less expensive, we ate at the Roti Hut, where a nice Indian lady cooked us fresh made rotis that were delicious. Afterwards we tried to find a couple off-the-beaten path beaches but the roads out to them were so rugged, I was very worried about getting into trouble with our rented Toyota Corolla. So we decided to bag the excursion and head back to the resort for some more fun on the beach and pool there.

The next day after breakfast we drove out to Mead’s Bay, which is a gorgeous cove of a beach with crystal clear water. We set up our base at Blanchard’s beach shack outdoor restaurant, which we learned has some good cheaper eats. At lunchtime we all ordered some excellent burgers, fries, cornbread, and they even had some vegan options for my husband. After some more swimming we dried off and drove back to the resort. That night my husband and I drove out to a little outdoor restaurant run by an Italian gentleman with a wood-fired pizza oven. The food was delicious, especially the fresh gelato for dessert!

For our final full day we enjoyed relaxing at the beach and pool and ate our meals at the resort. They had a Caribbean BBQ night that is held every Wednesday. They set up tents on the beach and had a full buffet. There was so much delicious food including grilled lobster! We ate our fill and tucked in for the night.

The next morning we were able to go for a quick swim before we had to leave. Around 10:15 we took a taxi to the ferry dock, and then a private boat to St. Maarten airport. Our flight was about an hour delayed and we landed in Atlanta around 7:30pm. Even though we had Global Entry and could breeze through Immigration and customs there were no lines. We learned our next flight to Syracuse was delayed by about an hour and a half. Luckily we could get into the Delta Sky Club with our American Express platinum cards. There we ate some dinner and relaxed, and finally boarded our flight around 11pm, making it home by 1:30am! Long travel days, but totally worth it to experience a slice of Caribbean paradise!

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